Greg and Paula Stafford: Leading the transformation of the Mathiesen Clinic

By Gene Galin

Pittsboro, NC – The Mathiesen Clinic, a historic landmark in Pittsboro, is undergoing a transformation under the careful and thoughtful guidance of Greg and Paula Stafford. The Staffords, known for their previous successful ventures including Havoc Brewery and the Mod expansion, are leading the restoration of the Mathiesen Clinic, an iconic building with deep historical roots in the community. In our discussion on Saturday afternoon, the Staffords shared insights into their vision for the Mathiesen Clinic and the larger SoCo (South of Courthouse) project, which aims to further revitalize the town’s social and commercial landscape.

Restoring History, One Detail at a Time

The Mathiesen Clinic, a place where many Pittsboro residents were born, holds cherished memories for locals. The Staffords recognized the historical and sentimental significance of the building, which was once the de-facto Pittsboro hospital. The couple, driven by a desire to preserve the town’s heritage and contribute positively to its future, embarked on the Mathiesen Clinic restoration journey.

The Mathiesen sisters and their families visited the clinic in March 2023.

Paula Stafford explains, “We always thought this was a beautiful building, and the glass block has a unique allure. When we had the opportunity to include it in our larger SoCo project, we were thrilled.” Paula added, “Our goal was to transform this place from an eyesore to a landmark that the town can be proud of.”

Preserving the Past, Envisioning the Future

The restoration process has been meticulous, involving both historical preservation and modern design elements. The Staffords collaborated with local artisans like Baron Hoffman, a skilled cabinet maker, to craft a special frame for the photograph of the Mathiesen reunion, that took place last year. The frame is made from pine salvaged from the ceiling of the Justice Motor’s building, further connecting the clinic to the town’s history.

The building’s unique features extend to the flooring. Paula Stafford explains, “We wanted to find a tile that harkened back to 1948, the year the building was constructed. The tile we chose complements the glass at the entrance-way, creating a seamless blend of old and new.”

SoCo Project: A Beacon of Community Revival

The Mathiesen Clinic restoration is just one facet of the broader SoCo project that the Staffords are spearheading. SoCo aims to breathe new life into the town’s social and commercial landscape by creating vibrant spaces for residents and visitors to gather, dine, and experience local culture. The project includes the Havoc Brewery, The Mod expansion, and the upcoming Doherty’s Irish Pub.

The Marlowe building (aka Mathiesen Clinic), named in honor of Catherine Marlowe, will feature multiple stories, including a rooftop restaurant with outdoor dining. The Staffords have high hopes for the rooftop dining, with discussions already underway with potential tenants, including a sushi restaurant and a high-end steakhouse.

Engaging the Community: Memories and Reunions

Folks born at the Mathiesen clinic were invited to a reunion on May 7, 2022.

The Staffords’ commitment to community engagement is evident in their efforts to reconnect Pittsboro’s residents. The Mathiesen Clinic restoration prompted the Mathiesen reunion, which brought together hundreds of people who were born in the clinic and their families. This event marked the first time many had seen each other since their high school days in the 60s and 70s.

Shirley Taylor and her siblings at the Mathiesen Clinic reunion.

The reunion sparked a wave of reminiscences and connections. Shirley Taylor, who organized the family’s mini-reunion, exemplified the event’s success. People who grew up and lived in Pittsboro celebrated the chance to reminisce, share stories, and honor their roots.

Looking Ahead: A Thriving Future for Pittsboro

As the Mathiesen Clinic restoration progresses and the SoCo project takes shape, the Staffords remain committed to supporting a vibrant and welcoming environment in Pittsboro. Heather Johnson’s Print Plus business has become the first tenant in the newly renovated clinic, heralding the beginning of a new chapter.

The Staffords encourage the those who sat for the Mathiesen reunion picture to pick up their 5×10-inch prints of the Mathiesen reunion photograph from Heather’s office. With plans for future additions to the SoCo project, Greg and Paula Stafford’s dedication to preserving history, fostering community connections, and promoting local businesses remains at the forefront.

I talked with Greg and Paula Stafford at the Mathiesen clinic, discussing their restoration project and plans for the building, which is part of the SoCo project. We talked about the historical significance, the building’s role as a clinic, the community’s response, and upcoming tenant openings.

Quick points

  • ⚙️ Greg and Paula Stafford are restoring the Mathiesen clinic as part of the SoCo project.
  • 📸 They took a picture at the Mathiesen reunion last year and have prints will be available for people to pick up in a couple of weeks.
  • 🏥 The clinic holds historical importance as a former hospital where many local people were born.
  • 💡 The idea of the reunion came from a desire to bring people who grew up in Pittsboro together.
  • 🏢 The Mathiesen building will have both office spaces and retail rentals on the first floor.
  • 🍣 The rooftop of the building will eventually feature a restaurant, potentially a sushi place or high-end steakhouse.
  • 👷‍♂️ The building restoration is being managed by Greg and Paula.
  • 🏨 Heather Johnson’s Print Plus is the first tenant to open at the Mathiesen clinic.
  • 🖼️ The picture taken at the reunion is a 5×10 inch print which will be available for those in the picture.
  • 🏗️ The Stafford’s Havoc and the Mod businesses are doing well, with consistent outdoor events and live music.

Gene Galin talks with the Staffords at the Mathiesen clinic. Watch on YouTube.

00:09 Renovation of the Mathiesen clinic with historical significance

  • The clinic is being renovated by Greg and Paula Stafford
  • A photo taken at the Mathiesen reunion last year is framed in a special wood frame
  • The frame is made from pine pulled out of the Justice Motor’s building ceiling
  • Baron Hoffman made the frame and a curio cabinet for the clinic
  • The wood will also be used to make Havoc flight trays
  • The pine wood is 50 years old and adds to the aesthetic appeal
  • The interesting tile flooring was chosen to complement the glass entrance-way
  • The building has a lot of historical significance as it used to be the Pittsboro Hospital
  • The staff’s dream and motivation drive the renovation project

02:45 The building called Marlowe is being managed by Greg and will have Heather Johnson as the first tenant.

  • The building was eagerly awaited to be part of the SoCo project.
  • Heather Johnson will be the first tenant in the building.
  • The Marlowe building is named in honor of Catherine Marlowe.
  • Prints of a picture taken last year will be available for pickup at the office.

05:08 A successful reunion event was held with around 100 people attending.

  • The event included activities such as live music, food trucks, and catering.
  • It was a great opportunity for people from the area to reconnect and reminisce.
  • One family had custom-made shirts for the occasion.
  • The event was well-received and enjoyed by all.

07:33 The Mathiesen sisters shared childhood stories about their hometown during a visit to the Historical Society

  • They talked about the house where Dr Mathiesen lived and Miss Marlawe owned, which is being renovated now
  • The Mathiesen family used to receive payments in the form of chickens, livestock, and food because people couldn’t pay them in cash
  • The sisters mentioned that their father’s old apartment was later occupied by Mike Tyler, who also received food as payment
  • The sisters discussed their favorite story about the school and how it played a significant role in their upbringing
  • During the visit, they also saw the room where radiation and x-rays were administered, and learned that Dr Mathiesen developed cancer due to lack of safety protocols

10:07 Plans for the SoCo project include a rooftop restaurant and rental spaces for retail or offices.

  • The rooftop of the SoCo project will have a restaurant and dining area.
  • The first floor of the SoCo project will be rented out as individual spaces for retail or offices.

12:51 Jonathan is doing extremely well as the town manager

  • Jonathan has been able to address long-standing problems in a matter of weeks.
  • Jonathan has brought energy and focus to the role.
  • It is expected that Jonathan may eventually run out of steam.
  • Randy and Kent are also doing a great job in their respective roles.
  • Havoc and the Mod are thriving businesses, despite some delays in opening.
  • The fall months are expected to be very successful for them, particularly due to the outdoor space.

15:32 The SoCo project involves multiple venues with live music, food options, and a variety of activities.

  • The project includes restaurants and food trucks, such as Postal Seafood and Havoc, offering diverse dining choices.
  • There are several live music venues, including Mod, Tap, and Havoc, hosting bands on a regular basis.
  • Additionally, there is an ice cream shop at the top of the street, providing dessert options for visitors.

17:51 The pub crawl in Pittsboro was successful but faced challenges due to lack of resources.

  • The pub crawl attracted a large number of participants from outside Pittsboro.
  • Extra police officers were hired but more were needed due to the high turnout.
  • The lack of Uber and accommodations in Pittsboro posed safety concerns.
  • Another pub crawl will be planned once the new hotel is open and Uber is available.
  • The hotel owner, Malcolm Bryant, is supportive and will be an asset to the town.